Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2020

Document Type

Thesis (699 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Counseling


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Taryn Akgul


internships, unpaid internships, mental health, wellness


Research by Foss and Kelly, that graduate students face specific challenges in their lives due to multiple roles that they partake in as a student, professional, and family member (2017). The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the impact of unpaid internships on school counseling students’ personal lives by asking about their financial, social, and emotional experiences. The research focuses on school counseling students that are in an accredited program by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) and are currently participating in an unpaid internship. After seven days the survey was deactivated and a total of 18 participants showed interest in participating in the study, however, only 12 met qualifications and were used for data collection and analysis. Participants were asked to answer a thirteen-question survey that is divided into qualifying questions, demographics questions, and experience questions. Results were analyzed in a thematic approach by highlighting similarities and differences in participants’ responses. The responses showed that students do express challenges in the financial, social, and emotional areas of their life by sharing descriptive examples of arrangements they have had to make in their lives to accommodate an unpaid internship, expressed emotions, and shared ideas of how different ways to cope. The responses of a small sample of participants can show that there are many issues within school counseling students that are not spoken of as often as they should. School counselors have a difficult job and need to be mentally strong and stable. Future research can be done to show the relationship between the struggles of going through an unpaid internships in their lives and their efficacy and quality as a counselor. Looking at it from an equitable perspective, does everyone have the same chance of making it through graduate school?



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